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FOCUS Technology Snapshot - University of Tulsa's Liquid Filter with Plasmonic Nanoparticles

In this project we plan to utilize ultra-small nanoparticles with controllable properties directly suspended in the working fluid of the thermal absorber to selectively absorb incoming solar energy that cannot be used by the photovoltaic (PV) cell. This direct absorption liquid filter serves two purposes: the direct capture of thermal energy in the working fluid as well as filtering off of the infrared portion of incoming sunlight before striking the PV cell. The fluid filter will be integrated into a two-pass concentrating PV and thermal architecture. The first pass, on the back side of the PV cell, is used to limit temperature rise in the PV cell while capturing any waste heat generation within the PV cell. The second pass, in front of the PV cell, is used to achieve spectral filtering and direct thermal energy absorption within the working fluid.

Our prior work has demonstrated the efficiency improvements of this design over conventional hybrid conversion schemes while also not requiring major redesigns of concentrating solar architecture. Additionally this approach allows for the direct photothermal energy conversion within the working fluid eliminating the need for additional heat transfer steps which limit the efficiency. The liquid filter is integrated with Cogenra’s hybrid solar energy system designed to utilize a high efficiency GaAs PV cell coupled with concentrated solar energy from the flat glass concentrator. This system creates a 50% improvement in overall performance of current hybrid solar conversion systems while costing less than $0.65/watt.